Parents and Sport Spectator Behavior 101

Parents and Sport Spectator Behavior 101

By Constantinos Massonos, Contributor

Sitting on the stands or on the side of a pitch, watching your child compete in sports is an exciting and emotional experience. The great majority of parents who make the effort to attend their kids’ games can watch them, learn, grow and develop through sports play.

A good sport parent is a good role model for the athlete. The parent should practice (after preaching) good sportsmanship, meaningful support and avoid confrontation or sending mixed signals in reference to the team and coaching staff. Parents should maintain a firm stand that kids should be loyal to their team, their coaches, their collective goals and then to the parents and the household. 

Perhaps the most important characteristic of a good sport parent is to always remember that their dreams are not the same as those of their kids and under no reason should their own dreams realize through their kids. It is important for sports parents to remember not to define their own self-worth in terms of their kids’ sport accomplishments, by living vicariously through their wins and losses.  

As a sport parent you should always keep into perspective the fact that your kids will walk away from sports having earned countless intangible benefits, valuable traits and characteristics, which are transferable and will aid in their future success, in many other facets of adult life.

You need to understand that winning does not automatically make your kids happy and that your attitude and approach is indeed very important to your kids and their development. For most children, a successful game is one in which they had fun, didn’t embarrass themselves and got a great snack afterwards.  Of course, nobody really likes to lose, but you will be surprised at how your kids, on game days, may not consider winning the most important feat of the day. 

So what really constitutes proper sport spectator behavior for parents?  It is quite simple and all you need to do is follow a few basic guidelines which include:

  • Applaud effort and encourage good sportsmanship from all sides in the competition
  • Remain within the spectators’ areas and refrain from entering the field of play
  • Let the coaches and referees do their job, without interfering
  • Avoid criticizing or humiliating participants for mistakes and/or behavior on the field
  • Neither engage nor tolerate violent, offensive, abusive, threatening, intimidating, behavior or language
  • Refrain from alcohol and/or tobacco use in any sporting facility (indoor or outdoor)
  • Show respect and appreciation
  • Show and transmit enthusiasm in a responsible manner
  • Promote playing by the rules and respecting decisions on the field
  • Understand that sport is part of a total life experience, and the benefits of involvement go far beyond the final score of the game

If your child could actually advise you on how to behave in the field it would probably be something like:

REMEMBER I am just a kid having fun

REMEMBER it’s just a game

REMEMBER my opponent is someone else’s kid

REMEMBER the referee is only human

REMEMBER they are not handing out college scholarships at the end of the game!

Our behavior on the stands greatly influences and affects our children, both short-term and long-term.  We should always remember that and as parents we should stand up for good sportsmanship, fair-play and true fan behavior.

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